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Book Notes: My Ancestors were Jewish: How Can I Find Out More About Them?, Isobel Mordy

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">My Ancestors were Jewish: How Can I Find Out More About Them?, Isobel Mordy, with advice on research abroad by Michael Gandy, and a bibliographical update by Charles Tucker (Society of Genealogists, 1995) ?1.50. This is a revised edition of a pamphlet first published in 1982. It is useful, but still contains some basic mistakes in history, and includes many way-out sources which are barely relevant for ordinary people tracing their ancestors, such as the items listed at the Jewish Studies Library and the Jewish Museum. The biblio? graphy also needs cutting back. Joseph Jacobs's and Lucien Wolf's Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica of 1887 is of no help and Michael Loewe's piece about the Jews in Imperial China is irrelevant. On the other hand, Rabbi John Simon Levi's The Forefathers: a Dictionary of Biography of the Jews ofAustralia, 1788-1830 and Rabbi L. M. Goldman's History of the Jews of Victoria should have been included in the Australian section. The 'List of useful addresses', headed by that of the Jewish Historical Society of England, needs to be pruned back to those useful for genealogical purposes. It is not helpful to put would-be genealogists in touch with this Society, Jewish newspapers or many of the other organizations in the list. However, the Chief Rabbi's Office, which does hold useful genealogical records, could have been included'. The text has been greatly improved in revision, but needs further improvement, including editing out some of Isobel Mordy's less informed remarks. Her state 248</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes ments that the first Sephardi Jews in England were of Dutch background and were mostly rich merchants are wrong. Most came direct from Spain, Portugal and France, and although rich merchants formed the ruling elite, they were only a small minority of the community. Her remark 'It has been said that it was the ambition of every Jew to leave to each of his sons the same amount of money as had been left to him by his own father' is a misleading stereotype which should have been cut out. Baron Lionel de Rothschild said something of the sort about his own ambitions, but to extend this philosophy to every Jew is absurd, for very few were Rothschilds. Edgar Samuel</page></plain_text>